The state of satellites

Recent innovations and large-scale investments in satellite technology are heralding a new era of earth observation, with multiple terabytes of new data being captured, analyzed and distributed every day. Very high-resolution satellites are being complemented with thermal sensors, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites, and satellite fleets that can monitor the globe every day, revisiting high priority regions multiple times throughout the day. Beyond the satellites themselves, the proliferation of machine learning, computer vision and cloud computing are greatly accelerating our ability to use satellite data for more informed decision making. The insights and outcomes enabled through space-based remote sensing are directly benefiting the global development community through more accurate understandings of where people live, in what density, and their relationship to our global ecosystems via land management, agriculture and climate change.

This site offers an exploratory overview of current and upcoming sources of data, processing pipelines, and data products. It is aimed at helping non-experts explore and harness the unfolding revolution of Earth observation, with an emphasis on understanding current capabilities and project development considerations through both commercial and open-source channels.

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This section details common uses of satellite data across the global development community including descriptions of the analysis and example images detailing how satellite data supports the given use case.


Detailed information on how satellite data is collected including descriptions of what can be accomplished with different spatial and temporal resolutions, general insight on satellite pricing based on the provider, and data licensing information.


A slightly more advanced section focused on some of the foundational concepts behind remote sensing which enable the creation of data derivatives.


An overview on some of the upcoming satellites and constellations slated for launch in the near future, coupled with key concepts and terms that dictate the uses of certain satellite data.

Data Access Platforms

A list of common platforms, both commercial and federally funded, where users can access satellite data including links.

Further Investments

An overview of several investments and data partnerships that offer low/no-cost access to satellite data, typically for a specific purpose like environmental monitoring.

Resource Library

Links to several platforms built using satellite and auxiliary data, some of which are Global Public Goods.

Works Cited

A list of all resources cited throughout the website, broken out by specific Section.